Après moi, le delugeSeptember 28, 2006 at 1:44 pm | Posted in vie quotidienne | 8 Comments
Just when you’re starting to feel a bit confident in this language, a tiny vocabulary hole comes along and takes over your whole day.
I headed out to market the other afternoon to pick up a few necessities — lettuce, onions, toothpaste, conditioner… Of course, I’d had a nice, nearly-full bottle of conditioner back in the States, but at the last minute I decided to leave it, rather than have it confiscated by terrorism-wary security guards or explode in my checked luggage (as my eye make-up remover did). So for the past week or so, I’ve been making do with a tiny hotel bottle of foul-smelling glop that has probably lived in this apartment since God knows when.
But having coaxed the last drop from that undersized vial, I thoughtlessly added the word “conditioner” to my shopping list and headed out the door. Only to realize, upon studying the toiletries aisle, that I had no idea what the French word for conditioner is.
Not a huge problem, you’d think. Obviously it will be in matching bottles, right next to the shampoo (called, adorably, “shampooing”), just like it is in America — and probably labeled something like “conditionneur“. Well, you’d be wrong.
Instead, you find things like “crème de bain hydratante”, “douche tonifiante”, “gel douche”, and “soin disciplinant boucles”. I can only put together the vaguest of meanings for these product terms (honestly, I’m not an expert on bath products even in America), but none of them seems quite right. In any case, I don’t have the confidence to just buy one, plop it on my hair, and find out.
So I go home empty handed, and do what any 21st century gal would do when faced with a transatlantic hair-care muddle: I check Google. Once again, not as simple as you might think. Enter the word “conditioner” into babelfish, and you get, predictably, “conditionneur”. But I already knew that wasn’t right. So then I try entering “conditioner french” into Google, but unfortunately am given loads of results for French Vanilla and French Lavender scented conditioners. No good.
Now I have to get craftier. I try “soins cheveux”, “soins cheveux douches” and any other combination I can imagine of French words relating to hair, shower, and care. Still, all I get are results for French shampoos and other assorted non-conditioning oddities. At one point I am given false hope when I find a “2 in 1″ shampoo — surely, somewhere in the description it will explain what the 2 elements are, and one of them must be conditioner. But no, French labels turn out to be maddeningly vague, focusing on how happy and cared-for you’ll feel after using the product, rather than what it actually is or does.
Don’t worry, this story does have a happy ending. Inspiration struck, and I went to the Garnier website. I don’t recommend this experience — it’s an agonizingly complicated flash site and it takes a ton of complex surfing to even find the product page, which turns out not to be linkable. But I’ve used Garnier conditioner in America, so I know it exists. And I know Garnier is a French company — if I can just find the bottle that looks familiar, I’ll know what I need.
And the answer is… Après-Shampooing.
Oh, sure, now it seems obvious. But ever since being converted to the Curly Girl method, I don’t even use shampoo, so I don’t think of conditioner as being “after” anything. I had assumed that the few “Après-Shampooing” bottles I found contained weird “clarifying” creams or God knows what.
So finally, after all that searching, I was able to go down to the corner store and buy one over-priced bottle of hair conditioner.
And people asked me what I planned to do with my days.
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